It’s official – Islington is a Borough of Sanctuary!
We are over the moon to present Islington with this incredibly well deserved award. There are now twelve awarded Local Authorities, five of which are London boroughs.
Last week, people from all over Islington came together to celebrate the borough’s status as an official Borough of Sanctuary for refugees, migrants and people seeking asylum.
More than 100 people attended a special event at Islington Town Hall yesterday to celebrate the award.
The official recognition builds on Islington’s long, proud history of welcoming people in need and recognises the borough’s commitment to supporting and valuing those seeking sanctuary now and in the future.
Attendees enjoyed a performance by Ukrainian singer Tetiana Pysarenko, talks from people who have found sanctuary in Islington and a poetry reading from the Somali Women’s Group and Francesca Beard, an All Change artist working with the group.
The council has been working to secure the award since Full Council passed a motion setting out its intention to join the nationwide network of local authorities in 2021.
The award recognises the quality of the council’s work to support people seeking sanctuary. This includes its ambitious participation in national schemes to welcome refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine, its strong reputation in no recourse to public funds policy and advocacy, and its partnership working with the community.
It also marks its commitment to go further for migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers of all backgrounds through its Islington Welcomes strategy. This includes working with people who have found sanctuary in Islington to improve council services and design training for council staff, and delivering a Sanctuary Grant Programme to support community projects.
Shogofa, who found sanctuary in Islington and is now completing an apprenticeship in the council’s No Recourse to Public Funds, Refugee and Migrant Service, said:
“Starting a new life is scary, you have everything at home and then you start from zero, but people were so welcoming and helpful. I don’t feel like there are any limitations for me to grow here and I love that it’s such a diverse place. The more you meet people and the more you see other cultures, the more you feel a connection.”
Councillor Roulin Khondoker, Executive Member for Equalities, Culture and Inclusion, said:
“I’m so proud of our borough. Islington has always been a place where communities come together and where we welcome people in times of need, and our Borough of Sanctuary status makes this official.
“You can’t miss the huge contribution our refugee, migrant and sanctuary-seeking communities make, whether it’s in the vital work people do, the fantastic food served in local restaurants, or the community spirit that means we stand together to support and celebrate each other.
“As an official Borough of Sanctuary, we’ll continue to stand up for people’s right to seek fulfilling lives for themselves and their families, and to work with our brilliant local community to make sure everyone feels safe, valued and welcome in the place we call home.”
More information about the council’s Borough of Sanctuary status and how residents, community groups and partners can get involved is available on the council’s website.